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LEGAL STUDIES PART I - CRIME

1] The Nature of Crime

A] The Meaning of Crime

Define: Crime
 A crime is any act or omission, which harms society and the individuals in it for which a punishment
has been determined by the law and is enforced by the state
 Criminal law differs from civil law, as civil law relates to rights and responsibilities between
individuals

The Principles of Criminal Law:


 Presumption of innocent until proven guilty
 Proof beyond reasonable doubt
 The right to remain silent
 Are created by moral and ethical judgments placed on a person’s behavior by society
 The notion that all of society is the victim, not just the person who has had wrong done to them. This
is why criminal cases are prosecuted by the state

B] The Elements of Crime

Outline: Mens Rea (Guilty Mind)


 Refers to intention of accused to commit a crimec
 The prosecution must prove that the accused was warned that their actions would at least probably
result in a crime being committed
 Exception: Strict liability offences where the prosecution only has to prove the person committed the
act (actus reus), not the intention to commit the crime (means rea)
 EXAMPLE: Traffic offences such as speeding

Outline: Actus Reuse (Guilty Act)


 Refers to the physical act of committing a crime
 Needs to be established in the case of a strict liability case (proof that the accused carried out the
crime)

C] Strict Liability

D] Causation

Outline: Causation
 This refers to the act being the substantial cause of the crime. The prosecution must show that there
is a link between the act and the harm caused by it
 EXAMPLE: Case Law: R v. Blaue (1975)

E] Categories of Crime

Outline: Types of Crime

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 Offences against the person
 Crimes involving physical injury to the victime

 Offences against the sovereign


 Crimes which undermine the government of nation e.g treason
Terrorism
Sedition
 Economic offences
Crimes involving the illegal obtainment of money or objects
Includes crimes against property e.g. theft
White collar crimes e.g fraud.
Computuer crime e.g. identity theft

 Drug offences
Crimes invivling obtainment, sale of traffic of drugs

 Driving offences
Crimes invilging motor vehicles
E.g speeding, drunkin driving
STRICT LIABILITY IN MOST CASES -> porve the act

 Public order offences


Crimes disrupt the normal order of society

 Preliminary Crimes
Crimes that occur in the lead upt to criminals committing another type of offence
Occrus befire the real deal
CcONSPIRIACY> aTTEMPT? eCONOMIC OFFENCE

Pln to but not necasrirly commit crime

F] Summary and Indictable Offences

Define: Summary and Indictable Offences


The two main classifications of a criminal offence are decided upon by the seriousness of the act or
omission:

Summary Offences Indictable Offences


 Less serious offences.  Serious criminal offences.
 E.g. shoplifting, minor assault, drink driving.  E.g. murder and sexual assault.
 Heard by a magistrate in the Local Court.  Heard by a judge and jury in the district
 These offences are brought on a charge and supreme court.
called a ‘summons’.  These offences are brought on a charge
 Penalties range from fines to 2 years called an ‘indictment.
imprisonment.  Maximum penalty can be life
imprisonment.

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LEGAL STUDIES PART I - CRIME

G] Parties to a Crime

Principal in the first degree


 The person who actually carried out the criminal act (Perpetrator)

Principal in the second degree


 The person who assists others in the commission of a crime (Accessory)

Accessory before the fact


 The person who helps others commit a crime by helping them plan or prepare a criminal act

Accessory after the fact


 The person who helps criminals after they have committed a crime, but is neither present during the
crime, nor aware of it beforehand

-> Will be assed when the accessory is

Clearly states features and characteristics of different types of crime

2] The Criminal Investigation Process


1. Reporting crime
 Fearful of consequences
 Robbery, sexual assult

The Criminal Trial Process Summary


1. Suspect is charged
2. Charge negotiation (resource efficient, unethical)

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3. Guilty Plead or not Guilty
4. Trial
o Defences
o Burden/Standard of proof (Beyong reasonable doubt)
o Legal Aid (Means test)
o Political on complete
5. Verdict (Role of the jury)

Court Jurisdiction
1. High Court
2. Superior Courts e.g. CCA, Supreme
3. Intermediate Courts e.g. District Court
4. Lower Courts e.g. Local Court

Why do we have different courts?


 Appeals
 Expertise
 Resource efficiency – time/money spent
 Consistency
 Precedence set on lower courts from higher court decisions
 Consistency

Advantages
-Equal opportunity to present case (judge can’t intervene with trial)
-Less prone to bias (judge can’t be selective in the evidence or argument they hear)
-Involves juries = more reflective of society as a whole

Disadvantages
- Ability of the lawyer – big impact on the verdict – potential for inequality
-Judges can’t get evidence = decisions made without the full scope of evidence available
-Juries can misunderstand evidence or legal arguments inaccurate judgement

Adversary System
Advantages
-Equal opportunity to present case (judge can’t intervene with trial)
-Less prone to bias (judge can’t be selective in the evidence or argument they hear)
-Involves juries = more reflective of society as a whole

Disadvantages
- Ability of the lawyer – big impact on the verdict – potential for inequality
-Judges can’t get evidence = decisions made without the full scope of evidence available
-Juries can misunderstand evidence or legal arguments inaccurate judgement

Legal Personnel
-Police prosecutor/public prosecutor (DPP) – represent the victim.
-Public Defender – represent the accused.
-Magistrate – lower courts.

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LEGAL STUDIES PART I - CRIME

-Judge – higher courts.

Legal representation
-No automatic right – not guaranteed despite that it is important for a fair trial – limited implied
right in serious cases where there is a risk that the trial would be unfair Dietrich v the Queen 1992.
-Legal aid – government organisation – crucial as they are responsible for a huge amount of trials
and hire public defenders in big cases, however, they do not have unlimited resources.
Who gets legal representation? Legal aid uses a 3-point test.
1.Means test – can you afford legal representation yourself?
2.Merit test – deciding whether the case is likely to succeed – chances of winning. If there is CCTV
of you committing the crime, would they bother?
3.Jurisdiction test – can legal aid deal with this area? Medical negligence and defamation are not
covered by legal aid.

Pleas and Charges Negotiation


Plea – formal statement the accused makes before trial, whether they are guilty or not – if they
plead guilty, they skip trial and goes straight to sentencing

The prosecution offers to lower charges for a guilty plea – prosecution may offer
manslaughter instead of murder for someone who is pleading guilty – 25% reduction
potentially.

Advantage – charge negotiation saves time and money, increases the likelihood that the
offender committed the crime for lower offences.
Disadvantage – the offender may not be punished for crimes they did not commit. If they
committed murder should they not be convicted for murder

Defences Use in the Criminal Trial Process

Partial Defenses to Murder


 These apply only to murder
 The defendant is fund guilty of manslaughter instead of murder
1. Substancial impairment of responsibilitiy (drugs, under influence)
2. Provocation
 E.g

Complete Defenses
 The defendant is found not guilty
1. Mental illdness
2. Self-Defence
3. Necesssity
4. Duress
5. Consent

Legal Aid
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 Legal representation in court
 Provide legal advice for free
 Individuals who do not have financial means to support themselves through a serious
criminal trial

Use of Juries
 There are 2 ways verdicts can be delivered
1. Unanimity – All 12 juries agree
2. Majority – 11 jurors agree, 1 may disagree
3. Introduction to NSW – Consider resource efficiency -> Time and Cost

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